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BOOK REVIEWS191 where a court of inquiry found Grierson's brother John guilty of defrauding the government, he was not exhonorated as the Leckies imply (p. 153); only the difficulty of putting together a board of volunteer officers saved him from court-martial. There is no mention of Ben Grierson's scheme to speculate in cotton in 1862, nor of his removal from command by General James H. Wilson in 1864. Wesley Merritt was elevated to brigadier general in 1887, not 1881. In balance, these rate as minor flaws in an otherwise exemplary book. Unlikely Warriors is readable, insightful, and often moving study. It belongs in the library of everyone interested in military and domestic life in nineteenth-century America. Bruce J. Dinces University of Arizona Black Liberation in Kentucky: Emancipation and Freedom, 1862-1884. By Victor B. Howard. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1983. Pp. viii, 222. $23.00.) The history of Kentucky' during the Civil War era is unique. Like its fellow border states, it remained within the Union. Consequently, masters expected federal protection of their slave property and, for a time, got it. By the same token, however, Washington officials slowly but steadily acceded to the slaves' expectation of freedom. In response to these developments, antislavery political coalitions rose to power in the other border states, but not in Kentucky. There unionist masters retained control , resisting federally imposed emancipation. Exempt from radical reconstruction after the war, they sought to reassert old prerogatives of mastership, in defiance of both the nation and their former slaves. Victor B. Howard's study explores this tortured process of revolutionary change. The book's strength lies in its first six chapters which examine how the Federal war effort in Kentucky shifted from placating loyal slaveholders to freeing the slaves. His account is convincing: fugitive slaves transformed Northern soldiers into staunch enemies of slavery. Soldiers protected the runaways and employed them, thereby forcing the Lincoln administration to reevaluate its policy. The prospect of using blacks to satisfy the Union's growing manpower needs reinforced emancipation sentiment and speeded the recruitment of black soldiers. The rush of slaves into the army terminally weakened slavery. Howard traces these developments admirably. In contrast to the six wartime chapters, the five on the postwar years (which cover work, family life, education, politics, and the testimony of blacks in court) are not as tightly interwoven. Rather than point toward a common goal, each tends instead toward its own object, perhaps a reflection of the prior publication of three of them. As a result, there is an imbalance between the two parts of the book. Whereas the early chapters elucidate the dynamic social process of emancipation, the lat- 192CIVIL WAR HISTORY ter ones appear much more static, subordinating analysis to descriptive accounts of how Kentucky blacks responded to various manifestations of racial oppression in the early years of freedom. To be sure, the postwar chapters provide valuable information (in the style, for instance, of such pioneers as Alrutheus A. Taylor), but they lack the sharp interpretive focus and sense of movement of the wartime chapters. Howard inexplicably diminishes his vast labor in primary materials by making only scant reference to secondary works. Consequently, insights gained by other historians are lost, opportunities to join larger discussions are forsaken, and a sense of parochialism is produced. For instance, Howard does not explore the distinction between wage labor and sharecropping (which he makes in passing), to the frustration of historians of emancipation who would welcome such a discussion with respect to a mixed-crop economy such as Kentucky's. At a more general level, he does not extrapolate his findings beyond the borders of Kentucky, losing, for instance, the chance to identify patterns of emancipation in Kentucky that doubtless also appeared elsewhere. A greater measure of generalization would have given the book broader appeal. Still, there is much new material here and many fresh insights, which even those not specializing in state or local history might profitably consult. Howard University Joseph P. Reidy ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 191-192
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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